Blood Glucose Swings: All possible culprits and what should you watch out for before it gets too late.
Have you ever suddenly felt dizzy, with streams of sweat running down your face or extreme weakness, or experienced an annoying headache throwing your entire routine off schedule? If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms frequently, it is possible that your blood sugar swings are at work.
When the body is unable to maintain a stable level of sugar in the blood, and the level drops a lot, you feel tired, exhausted, dizzy or sweaty. These are all symptoms of low blood glucose i.e. hypoglycemia. On the other hand, when the sugar levels shoot too high, it is termed as hyperglycemia.
Repeated drops or spikes in blood glucose levels i.e. fluctuations, indicate a problem in the mechanisms that maintain the blood sugar levels.
But why does blood sugar fluctuate?
A hormone called insulin is secreted by an organ called the pancreas. It plays a key role in balancing glucose levels in your blood. Insulin helps the cells in the body to use the glucose from the blood to produce energy. When cells are not able to use this glucose, it is because either there is not enough insulin being produced or the body cells have developed resistance to the insulin which is available. As a result the blood sugar level begins to fluctuate. If neglected for long, the blood glucose level remains high continuously and can lead to serious health problems, especially related to the heart, kidneys and eyes. This long-standing condition of high blood sugar is commonly known as diabetes mellitus.
When do these blood sugar swings occur?
Women are prone to suffer from blood sugar fluctuations at various stages of life. These include:
- Pregnancy - During pregnancy there is a dramatic increase in the body’s demands for energy. Also, all the hormones are at their peak during this period. This increases insulin secretion in the body. However, the cells are unable to utilize it effectively which leads to increase in the blood glucose levels. This condition is known as gestational diabetes and usually disappears after the baby’s birth. Women who suffer from gestational diabetes are more likely to suffer from diabetes later as compared to women who do not have gestational diabetes. So take your gynaecologist’s advice seriously and take control of your diabetes to prevent harm to yourself and your upcoming baby!
- Polycystic ovarian disease or PCOD – Many women suffer from problems with periods and ovulation during their reproductive years. PCOD causes irregular periods, weight gain, abnormal hair-growth and high blood sugar levels. Women with PCOD face difficulties in getting pregnant too. In PCOD, the high-levels of insulin result in increased secretion of male hormone testosterone in a woman’s body and underutilization of insulin . This results in rise in glucose in the blood. A simple sonography and hormone levels will tell your gynaecologist if you have PCOD, and if something needs to be done to treat it.
- Family history of diabetes – Women with family members suffering from diabetes are likely to experience more blood sugar fluctuations in their forties, during perimenopause, due to strong genetic links. Strong dietary rules and exercise are the only way out!
- Menopause –During normal menstrual cycles, the blood sugar level tends to drop in the first half of the cycle under the effect of the hormone estrogen. Whereas, hormone progesterone released in the second half of the menstrual cycle increases the blood sugar. During perimenopause and menopause, body secretes less of estrogen which leads to decrease in its protective effect of keeping the blood sugar low. As progesterone decreases the effectiveness of insulin, the level of glucose in blood increases. Hence, perimenopausal and menopausal women are prone to experience frequent blood glucose swings.
Precautions to prevent the complications of blood glucose swings
Eventually, frequent blood sugar fluctuations result in complications such as weight gain, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and increased cholesterol levels.
- Life-style modification is the first step to prevent these complications.
- Include regular moderate exercise like walking, swimming, etc. along with a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet in your daily routine.
- Avoid food items rich in carbohydrates (high-glycaemic index food) like pizza, burger, chips, etc. that increase blood sugar like a sudden burst in a short span of time.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners as they too increase blood glucose.
- Include a diet high in proteins and fibers and low in fats and carbohydrates.
- Restrict the amount of sweet in the diet, if you have a tendency to put on weight easily.
- Skipping breakfast is the biggest culprit responsible for blood sugar swings. Make it a habit of having a protein-rich breakfast every morning.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids as dehydration can increase blood sugar.
- Adequate sleep is essential as improper sleeping patterns or loss of sleep can increase sugar levels.
- Stop cigarette smoking and alcohol which aggravates existing diabetes.
2. Mental stress is a very common factor that triggers the increase in blood sugar. Meditation, yoga, regular exercise help to manage excess of anxiety, depression, and other emotions that can make your blood sugar levels fluctuate.
Precautions at an early stage can help in managing the discomforting symptoms of blood glucose swings, delay the onset and decrease the intensity of complications. Keep your blood glucose swings in check and consult your gynecologist or a diabetologist at the earliest.
Eat healthy, stay happy, stay healthy!